The least believable part of Philippe Garrel’s latest film is that anyone involved has ever been in a relationship. The Salt of Tears follows Luc, a young carpentry student moving from the countryside to Paris to pursue his craft. He is quickly involved with three women, almost at once: the chance encounter Djamela, his childhood friend Genevieve, and the independent nurse Betsy.

Beyond this, the lead is given no further characterisation. There is no impetus for him pursuing any of these relationships – and within those, nothing beyond sex – aside from the fact that the women are pretty and available. Therefore, it is hard to feel anything but frustration and exhaustion by his antics, which never lead towards any dramatic development or growth. Likewise, the women are largely interchangeable – Betsy distinguishes herself with a less co-dependent attitude towards relationships, but all are defined by their inexplicable and overwhelming passion for Luc and any personality comes second.

Not a single interaction, line, or sequence of events feels remotely naturalistic or probable, which almost makes the film enjoyable since it is hard to take seriously. The irregular omniscient narration adds to the truly baffling events by filling in valuable information the plot fails to show. If The Salt of Tears is a satire, it is one that lacks the requisite self-awareness for genuine laughter or insight. Additionally, its view of relationships and women – and its hero’s entitlement to sex without effort or introspection on his part – could brand it as woefully misogynist. This view, however, would imply that the film knows what it is doing, which is far too generous a statement.

The Salt of Tears manages to be both truly laughable and a maddening portrait of male entitlement. It would be hard to find a more meaningless 100 minutes.



CAST: Logann Antuofermo, Oulaya Amamra, André Wilms, Louise Chevillotte, Souheila Yacoub

DIRECTOR: Philippe Garrel

WRITERS: Philippe Garrel, Jean-Claude Carrière, Arlette Langmann

SYNOPSIS: This quintessentially French tale follows a young man’s move to Paris, driven by a love of carpentry and women.